TAPE MINUTE SUMMARY OF CONTENTS
0-14:00 Anastacio’s parents were José Maria Arriaga and Manuela Gandiaga, both from Bolivar, Spain. They were small farmers, and lived on the baserri Arlaban (from the Arriaga side of the family; Manuela came from baserri Onaindia). Anastacio was born on July 4, 1929, and had 9 brothers and sisters: Jesus, Martina, Juan, Joseba, Julian, Miren, Victoria, Pilar, José Maria, all of whom were born in his father’s baserri. He recalls helping out on the farm as a child, feeding the animals, milking the cows, and so on. Since the Civil War was raging when Anastacio began school, there was a shortage of teachers, and so he rarely attended class—generally about 3 days of class a week. He also had a lot of work at home that often kept him from attending. Anastacio had to walk quit a way to get into town for school, and woke up early in the morning to do so. Most of his teachers were not from the Basque country, and spoke only Spanish, and one young (19-20) female schoolteacher stayed at Anastacio’s house and later married a Basque man. He describes being forced to learn in a language other than his own. Many people spoke Basque in the streets when they could, but those who were caught had to spend a night in a cold jail cell with only 1 blanket. The young teacher who stayed with the Arriagas eventually learned Basque, since family members had a hard time communicating and she found a Basque boyfriend.
10-26:00 Anastacio describes how difficult it was growing up during wartime. Armies marching through would steal from and pillage towns they crossed. He recalls the sounds of the bombing of Gernika, preceded by printed warnings dropped from planes. Afterwards, everyone was scared, and fighting was normal, even though Bolivar sustained little damage. One baserri in the town, Luzar, was hit by 22 bombs and did not collapse. The town is over 20 km away from Gernika, but visibility is high because the terrain is relatively flat. Anastacio recalls food rationing. There were always people coming through town to ask for money: families, elderly, children, and even soldiers. Two of Anastacio’s brothers even fought for different sides of the war, an event that was not uncommon! So many things were rationed that families often resorted to the black market for goods like eggs and sugar. Some racketeers charged upwards of 100 pesetas for a kilo of sugar, which nobody had, so bartering was the rule. The Arriagas exchanged chickens for goods like tea. He describes how meat was packed in salt to preserve it.
26-30:00 Anastacio’s brother went to Argentina, but nobody he knew had gone to the US for him. When he finished school at 13, he really wanted to go to college, but the family could not afford it. He stayed home, working the farm, until he was 16, at which point his sister married a big farmer from Ondarroa and Anastacio went to work for them for 2 years. When he was finished there, he went to a school in Eibar to learn how to work in a shotgun factory. At age 21, he was drafted into the army, and served 18 months in Navarra, before returning to work. The shotgun factory made the guns the old-fashioned way, employing many young Basques looking for work. There were about 5 or six big shotgun factories in Eibar, which Anastacio names, and the weapons were sold the world over.
0-10:00 Anastacio continues talking about the guns from Eibar. Many were exported to South America, and they are still very popular guns today. He worked for this company for 13 years, and remembers his mother praising God for the paychecks he brought home. Unfortunately, however, after 10 years, his salary had not been augmented, so the workers went on strike. They obtained better wages, which were production-based to increase worker motivation. Anastacio met his future wife in Bolivar, where Miren Arriaga (also her maiden name; from baserri Armola Torre) around this time, and the couple was married in 1958. The couple lived in his wife’s house, and was happy that he had good wages to support a family. When the shotgun industry bottomed out, though, Anastacio felt he needed to make a change. The Gandiagas of Castleford were cousins, and he had a few more relatives in Boise, but Anastacio had no idea what life in the US was like beyond promises of economic opportunity. After a few months of arranging the paperwork, Anastacio moved to the US, in 1968.
10-17:00 As part of the process of getting the job necessary to come to America, Anastacio was asked many questions about shepherding. He relates one question: what does one do with a dead sheep? Skins were often drapes over motherless lambs so that the ewes would accept the baby as their own… He knew very little about the business, but since the official interrogating him knew even less (he was using a text), Anastacio passed easily. He traveled from Bilbao to Madrid to New York to Boise. Sheep rancher Bob Bennett and a Basque foreman greeted him at the airport and drove him to the ranch. Anastacio recalls his first few days: he was driven to a different town almost every day to get supplies and see things, during which time he met many people. He finally ended up in Atlanta, where Bennett’s operation was based. Miren did not mind that her husband had come to the US, since she herself wanted to join him (she had an uncle, John Arriaga, in Boise). When Anastacio first came to the US, he had 2 daughters, Ana and Idoia, both of whom supported their father’s trip. When they finally came to join him, they were very happy in Idaho.
17-27:00 Anastacio worked for the Bennett ranch for over two years, during which time he obtained a green card. Since Bennett was beginning to close down his business, Anastacio worked for the Simplot Company in Grandview for a little while. He soon decided to take safety and skills classes for construction work, and was employed by Miller Construction Company, building bridges and highways. Even though he did not learn English very fast (at least until he began working in construction and away from other Basques), it didn’t take Anastacio long to adjust to life in the US. During his free time, he and his friends enjoyed going to Basque hotels to drink, play cards, and talk—they traveled to many towns in search of a good time. He says whiskey helped him through many an injury.
27-30:00 Even though he had been sending money to Bolivar (his wife almost had a heart attack when she say all the money; he saved a lot), at this point, Anastacio wrote to his wife and said it was time to make a decision: either he went back to the Basque country, or Miren and the kids came to Idaho. She wanted to come, so Ramon Ysursa helped arrange the travel. Miren and the kids arrived in Boise after spending a night in Salt Lake City.
0-9:30 Anastacio’s daughters loved the US at first sight, and even Miren enjoyed her new life. They all had their green cards very early, and since Anastacio spoke good English, the family had few adjustment problems. Ana and Idoia learned English very quickly in Gooding (where the family had bought a house) without the help of special classes, and were good students. The Arriagas maintained a house in Bolivar, and Anastacio and Miren always intended to move back there, but she suffered from an extended illness and passed away in 1990. When his daughters decided to stay in the US, Anastacio knew that he would do so as well. The family will have made 11 trips back to the Basque country, in 1981, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. His sisters in the Basque country (some of whom are quite old) always say they will pass away before he returns, but Anastacio keeps seeing them every year! He very much enjoys going back, and has notices many changes in the Basque homeland. Lifestyles are modern, transportation has exploded (nowhere to park!), and standard of living is vastly improved. Even culture and society has changed: the effects of different politics and more education. Young and old people seem to separate more these days—a sad difference when compared to the family togetherness Anastacio knew as a child. People can enjoy life nowadays, and Anastacio does so whenever he is there
9:30-20:00 Anastacio has been a member of the Gooding Basque Association since it began in 1982, and has watched the organization grow in membership numbers and activities. It all began to facilitate the Gooding Basque picnics; when the main cook left after the first year, teamwork was necessary! It is an excellent fundraiser, but more importantly brings Basques together, in order to celebrate and preserve the culture. The Gooding picnic is immensely popular. Anastacio feels that the Basque community in his town has evolved, too. When his family first rolled into town, they always had guests on the weekends, but nowadays Basque families are getting older and fewer, and so this type of casual socializing is more rare. The Gooding Basque Association has no members under the age of 20, but Anastacio hopes that building a Basque center in town will help draw more interest.
20-30:00 Anastacio worked for Magic Valley Meat Packing in Gooding for 13 years until the company closed down. He and his wife ran the Arriaga’s Restaurant in Gooding for a year, but it was very difficult to maintain, so friend Andy Lejardi got Anastacio a full-time position driving a bus for the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind, where he stayed 14 years until his retirement. Anastacio considers himself to be “99.9% Basque”—his attitude and language have not changed, and he has not become a US citizen (since he and his wife had always intended to go back). Even Ana and Idoia (who have married American men) have not become US citizens
0-5:30 Idoia helps Mexican immigrant children adjust to life in the US for a living, including making sure that they are properly cared for in terms of medicine. Ana’s husband owns funeral homes throughout Idaho. Anastacio talks about his grandchildren, who love sports. His daughters are also very proud of their Basque heritage, as was Miren when she was alive. The Arriaga family speaks Basque at home (when Miren saw that her kids were forgetting, she sent them to Markina during the summer to study the language, which was not easily affordable. They write Arriaga as their middle name even today.
NAMES AND PLACES
Arriaga, Jesus: Anastacio’s brother
Arriaga, John: Miren’s uncle in Boise
Arriaga, José Mari: Anastacio’s brother
Arriaga, José Maria: Anastacio’s father
Arriaga, Joseba: Anastacio’s brother
Arriaga, Juan: Anastacio’s brother
Arriaga, Julian: Anastacio’s brother
Arriaga, Martina: Anastacio’s sister
Arriaga, Miren: Anastacio’s sister
Arriaga, Miren: Anastacio’s wife
Arriaga, Pilar: Anastacio’s sister
Arriaga, Victoria: Anastacio’s sister
Bennett, Bob: Anastacio’s employer
Demaray, Ana Arriaga: Anastacio’s daughter
Gandiaga family: Anastacio’s cousins in Idaho
Gandiaga, Manuela: Anastacio’s mother
Gooding Basque Association
King, Idoia Arriaga: Anastacio’s daughter
Lejardi, Andy: worked with Anastacio at the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind
Simplot, JR: Idaho sheep rancher and farmer
Ysursa, Ramon: helped Miren and kids get travel documents
Arlaban: Anastacio’s father’s baserri
Armola Torre: Miren Arriaga’s baserri
Arriaga’s Restaurant (Gooding)
Atlanta, ID: location of Bennett’s sheep ranch
Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind (Gooding)
Magic Valley Meat Packing Company (ID)
Miller Construction Company (ID)
New York, NY
Onaindia: Anastacio’s mother’s baserri
Salt Lake City, UT
Clubs and organizations
Spanish Civil War